E.D.I.T.H. = Exit Drills In The
In 1995, 3640 Americans died in home fires. That's roughly
10 people a day. Tens
of thousands more were injured. People
can survive even major fires in their
homes if they are alerted
to the fire and get out quickly and stay out.
How To Survive
Install smoke detectors and keep them in working order.
Make an escape plan
and "practice" it. Consider installing
an automatic fire-sprinkler system.
Plan Your Escape
Once a fire has started, there is no time to plan how to
get out. Sit down with your family today, and make a step-by-step
plan for escaping a fire.
Draw a floor plan of your home, marking two ways out of
every room - especially
sleeping areas. Discuss the escape
routes with every member of your household.
Agree on a Meeting Place, where every member of the household
will gather outside your home after escaping a fire to wait
for the fire department. This allows you to count heads and
inform the fire department if anyone is missing or trapped
inside the burning building.
Practice your escape plan at least twice a year. Have a
fire drill in your home.
Appoint someone to be the monitor,
and have everyone participate. A fire drill is
not a race. Get out quickly, but carefully.
Make Your Exit Drill Realistic
Pretend that some exits are blocked by fire, and practice
alternative escape routes,
Pretend that the lights are out
and that some escape routes are filling with smoke.
Make sure everyone in the household can unlock all doors
and windows quickly,
even in the dark. Windows or doors with
security bars need to be equipped with quick-release devices,
and everyone in the household should know how to use
If you live in an apartment building, use stairways to escape. Never use
an elevator during a fire. It may stop between floors or
take you to a floor where the fire is burning. Some high-rise
buildings may have evacuation plans that require you to stay
where you are and wait for the fire department.
If you live in a multi-story house and you must escape from
an upper story window, be sure there is a safe way to reach
the ground, such as a fire-resistant fire escape ladder.
Make special arrangements for children, older adults and
people with disabilities. People who have difficulty moving
should have a phone in their sleeping area and, if possible, should sleep on the ground floor.
Test doors before opening them
While kneeling or crouching at the door, reach up as high
as you can and with the back of your hand touch the door,
the knob, and the crack between the door and
its frame. If
you feel any warmth at all, use another escape route. If
the door feels cool, open it with caution. Put your shoulder
against the door and open it slowly.
Be prepared to slam
it shut if there is smoke or flames on the other side.
If you are trapped, close all doors between you and the
fire. Stuff the cracks around the doors to keep out smoke.
Wait at a window and signal for help with a flashlight or
by waving a light colored cloth. If there is a phone in the
room, call the fire department and report exactly where you
Get out fast.
In case of a fire, don't stop for anything
Do not try to rescue possessions or pets. Go directly to
your meeting place,
and then call the fire department from
a neighbor's phone, a portable phone,
or an alarm box. Every
member of your household should know how to call the
Crawl low under smoke
Smoke contains deadly gases, and heat rises. During a fire,
cleaner air will be near the floor. If you encounter smoke
when using your primary exit, use an alternative escape route.
If you must exit through smoke, crawl on your hands and knees,
keeping your head 12 to 24 inches (30 - 60 centimeters) above
Once you are out of your home, don't go back for any reason.
If people are trapped, the firefighters have the best chance
of rescuing them. The heat and smoke of a fire are overpowering.
Firefighters have the training, experience, and protective
equipment needed to enter burning buildings.
Play It Safe
More than half of all fatal home fires happen at night while
people are asleep. Smoke detectors sound an alarm when a
fire starts, waking people before they
are trapped or overcome
by smoke. With smoke detectors, your risk of dying in a home
fire is cut nearly in half. Install smoke detectors outside
every sleeping area and on every level of your home, including
the basement. Follow installation instructions carefully,
and test smoke detectors monthly. Change all smoke detector
batteries at least once a year. If your detector is more
than 10 years old, replace
it with a new one.
Automatic fire-sprinkler systems
These systems attack a fire in its early stages by spraying
water only on the area where the fire has begun. Consider
including sprinkler systems in plans for new construction
and installing them in existing homes.
Now, use what you've learned, set up your plan ,
including two ways out, a meeting place and conduct
a practice drill to determine if anything has been
overlooked. everyone in
the household needs to participate for
it to be
successful. It may save your life.